Critical Analysis to Kate Chopins The Story of an Hour
Kate Chopins The Story of an Hour allows one to explore the ironic situation in which a woman unpredictably feels free after her husbands assumed death. Chopin uses Mrs. Mallards bizarre story to illustrate the marital problems that were inherent in marriages in the early 19th century. In The Story of an Hour, the main character, Mrs. Mallard, celebrates the death of her husband, yet, Chopin challenges readers of all backgrounds, gender, age, and cultural societies to analyze, question and criticize the behavior of Mrs. Mallard during the-time-of-her-loving-husbands-assumed-death.
Chopin portrays the stereotypical marriage Mrs. Mallard endured during the 19th century. It was the kind of marriage that established boundaries between men and women and consisted of a lack in communication between the marital partners. She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke of repression and even a-certain strength (15). She proves this by illuminating the reader early in the story that Mrs. Mallard, did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance (15). She cries at once, but shortly after, she starts to feel free and welcomes herself to the new spring life (15). The most important clue that explains Mrs. Mallards unpleasant marital life can be established when Chopin tells the reader that Mrs. Mallard, saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely and she opened and spread her-arms-out-to-them-in-welcome(16).
Chopin demonstrates that Mrs. Mallard understood the significance of her doomed marriage only after she received the news of her husbands railroad accident that led to his unfortunate death. Only minutes after, she starts to feel very different: There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully(15), and gives the reader a clear understanding that Mrs. Mallard started experiencing mixed feelings about her own marriage and the life she had been living all those years. She said it over and over under her breath: free, free, free!(15), a simple gesture illustrating that Mrs. Mallards reaction to her husbands death was-not-at-all-something-one-would-expect-from-a-wife-who-claimed-she-loved-her-husband.
The fact that Chopin tells the reader at the beginning of the story that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart disease warns the reader that Mrs. Mallard could potentially be harmed at any given moment, yet, when she is told her husbands assumed death; her heart condition takes a sudden turn. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of body(16). Chopin verifies the irony of Mrs. Mallards behavior when the story leads to the ironic death of Mrs. Mallard after she sees her husband alive. When the doctors arrive, they claim-she-had-died-of-a-heart-disease-of-joy-that-kills.
In conclusion, we see that through the use of irony of diction, Chopin reveals the heart- aches of female repression. It can be perceived that Chopin used Mrs. Mallard as a character to warn readers of all kinds, that sacrificing your own happiness in order to live up to the societys wants and needs is just not worth it. Not only does this female repression deprive the person from a life she wants to live, but it can also lead to death.
Chopin, Kate. Story of an Hour. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed.
Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. 15-16. Print.